Thursday, 1 October 2009

Hundreds of evacuees now call Palace ‘second home’

Manila Bulletin

Empty-handed and penniless, hundreds of evacuees Wednesday flocked to Malacañang Palace and sought refuge after heavy floods and a fire struck their homes in Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City.

“This is our second home,” said Janet Macabudbod who, along with her four children, was relocated to Malacañang’s Mabini Hall after their house was razed by fire amid the heavy rains and floods on Saturday.

There are now 17 families, including the Macabudbods, currently staying at Mabini Hall, with 350 people more expected to arrive at the Palace grounds, 50 of whom will stay at the Ceremonial Hall and the rest at Mabini Hall.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said they plan to open another building, the Tahanan ng Masa, for more displaced families.

Presidential Managament Staff chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is heading the National Relief Operations Center, said they will also be using the Palace grounds to set up tents to accommodate up to 500 evacuees.

“We are now addressing the overflow of evacuees and around 100 families would be housed in Mabini Hall,” he said in a briefing.

He also took opportunity to appeal to private companies and individuals to donate more canned goods and water that are running out of supply.

Esperon said the President also instructed to put another receiving counter for donations which is manned by presidential daughter Evangelina Lourdes “Luli” Arroyo Bernas and other female members of the First Family.

Meanwhile, more expressions of condolences and sympathies poured in Wednesday for the victims of tropical storm Ondoy, including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

“I was saddened to hear of the devastation and tragic loss of life caused by the flooding in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon. Please accept my condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all those affected at this difficult time,” the Queen said in a letter to President Arroyo.

Likewise, South African president Jacob Zuma and German president Horst Köhler conveyed their condolences to the typhoon victims, with Germany providing 500,000 euros in emergency relief assistance.

The French government earlier provided 10,000 euros or approximately P700,000 in immediate relief assistance Tuesday.

The European Commission (EC) has given a separate assistance worth 2 million euros or approximately P140 million.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso also dispatched an expert team to assess the humanitarian needs of the victims of the storm.

China meanwhile provided an additional US$100,000 in humanitarian assistance in a ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Wednesday afternoon. The assistance from China now totals US$140,000 after it initially donated US$10,000 to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Sunday and Chinese telecom giant Huawei technologies Philippines, Inc. donating US$30,000 cash.

The government of Japan also turned over 20 million yen to the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The turnover was made by Japanese Charge d’ Affaires Hidenobu Sobashima. The assistance includes 1,500 sleeping water tanks, 1,500 polyester tanks, and 15 units of water purifiers.

The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has donated P6,908,330 worth of supplies for the typhoon victims.


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